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Report: FBI Agent Removed Mueller Team for Anti-Trump Texts; Senator Graham Says U.S. Families Should Leave South Korea; Lawsuit Says Sexual Harassment Rampant in Silicon Valley. Aired 3:30-4p ET
Aired December 4, 2017 - 15:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[15:30:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN HOST: You are really side lined when they're pushing you from investigating down to the HR department. So, and this is becoming a political issue, as you might expect. You have the House Intel Chair Devin Nunes, Republican and ally of President Trump's and he's really upset with Justice Department because he is saying they're not really saying what happened here.
LAURA JARRETT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Right. We learned over the weekend and we had some reporting on this that Devin Nunes, the chair of the committee even though he stepped aside has still been doing quite a bit of work and one of the things he wanted to look into why Strzok was reassigned. A report broke in August that he had been re- stationed to human resources, but it didn't say why. Nunes' team had gone to the Justice Department to find out why, but officials declined to comment on it at the time. Now the news is a little bit different and we learned that Strzok will be interviewed in a closed session before the House Intel Committee sometime in the coming weeks.
KEILAR: Oh, that will be very interesting. Laura Jarrett, thank you so much for that report.
And next, the president used the removal of that FBI agent to re-up his attacks on the FBI. He said the agency's reputation is in tatters. A former FBI assistant director will weigh in on those comments next. Plus, we have more on our breaking news. CNN learning that the White House's chief lawyer, the White House counsel told president Trump in January that Michael Flynn had misled the FBI. This is raising new questions about what the president knew when he urged Jim Comey, the FBI director to drop his investigation of Flynn and why Trump's lawyers are now claiming that the president cannot, is incapable of obstructing justice. We'll be back in a moment.
[15:35:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
KEILAR: The president attacking both the FBI and the Justice Department in the middle of the Russia investigation that has so far produced two indictments and two guilty pleas involving members of the president's campaign and White House. The president tweeted this, after years of Comey with the phony and dishonest Clinton investigation and more running the FBI, its reputation is in tatters, worst in history, but fear not. We will bring it back to greatness. Joining me now is the former assistant director of the FBI's criminal
investigative division, Chris Swecker. You spent years with the FBI, what is your response to that tweet?
CHRIS SWECKER, ASSISTANT DIRECTOR, FBI CRIMINAL INVESTIGATIVE DIVISION: As someone who spent 25 years in the FBI and I bought into the fidelity, bravery and integrity motto of the FBI, and to see that third leg of the stool there, integrity take a hit is painful. It's extremely painful for those of us that served to see that happening, and I know that this agent is, by reputation, a very good agent, but he made a huge mistake and he is now a defense witness.
KEILAR: You -- what do you think about the current FBI director staying silent on all of this?
SWECKER: Well, Chris Wray is a very quiet person by nature. He's not going to seek out the press even less so than former director Mueller who had a reputation for not being out there in the press, but he's constrained. Number one, it is the special counsel and he will not interfere in any way with that or comment about it. Number two, it's a personnel matter which by federal law and privacy laws he can't comment on, so his hands are pretty well tied on this one.
KEILAR: We've been hearing that from a number of people. They also say, you say you stay out of something like this and don't make it political.
KEILAR: I do want your reaction. We do have breaking news that the White House counsel actually told President Trump in January that Michael Flynn had misled the FBI. So that's something that he knew before we knew that he knew it, and this is raising some questions about the president after that urging the FBI director Jim Comey to drop the Flynn investigation. Some people have said this may be part of this obstruction case that could be built. What do you think?
SWECKER: Well, I'll tell you, as a lawyer, he's literally a nightmare as a client. He's Colonel Jessup in the movie "A Few Good Men," he wants to show you he is the one in power and he ordered the code red, he is always speaking out in ways that hurt himself, and in this case, he certainly didn't advance his cause at all at a critical juncture in this investigation.
KEILAR: So, that's what -- but how bad can the way he speaks and what he tweets, and how badly can that affect it if you bring up this example that we're all familiar with in that movie, but is he in a situation of self-incrimination, when there is a tweet that went out where he said he fired Flynn because he misled not only Pence, but the FBI.
And you have his personal lawyer say, no, no, no, I drafted that. How self-incriminating is he really? Is that something that will certainly get him in trouble or is it just noise?
[15:40:00] SWECKER: Well, personally, I think he misspoke because I don't know how he would have known at that juncture that Flynn had lied to the FBI and the FBI was still sorting through that information through that time part --
KEILAR: But Chris, what we learned was that in January he had been informed that he had been informed in January by the White House counsel, that Flynn had misled the FBI, and it was the next month when he fired Flynn, when the "Washington Post" story came out so he did know.
SWECKER: So, it's a long litany, a series of not misstatements but inculpatory statements on his part. If, and I will underscore the if, if the president is in the crosshairs of an obstruction investigation, or if he's in the crosshairs of a collusion investigation, something that involves some sort of quid pro quo with Russia during the campaign, there are half a dozen statements that he's made that can be used against him as evidence. So, if he -- he's not helping himself and he's certainly hurting himself by these statements.
KEILAR: Yes. And that's why lawyers advise their clients to stay mum. Chris Swecker, I really appreciate your insight here.
Coming up, North Korea is warning, quote, a nuclear war may break out any moment and you have a senator telling American families they should leave South Korea right now. Is the Trump administration preparing a preemptive strike?
[15:45:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
KEILAR: Tensions are escalating once again with North Korea. Now there are growing fears that the U.S. and the rogue nation are moving closer to war. U.S. fighter jets can be seen today flying over South Korea for combat exercises and they're practicing a mock attack against a North Korean missile launch site and North Korea says those drills they're pushing the Peninsula to the brink of a nuclear war. Senator Lindsey Graham fears the U.S. is running out of time.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM, SOUTH CAROLINA (R): I am going to urge the Pentagon not to send any more dependents to South Korea. South Korea should be an unaccompanied tour. It's crazy to send spouses and children to South Korea given the provocation of North Korea, so I want them to stop sending dependents and it's now time to start moving American dependents out of South Korea.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KEILAR: Joining me now to discuss this as we hear that pretty scary warning there from Senator Graham, Bob Baer with us, CNN security analyst. Do you agree with Senator Graham? You talked to military families who for a long time looked forward to this assignment to go to Korea, but with this escalating rhetoric and capability, nuclear weapons wise with North Korea, it's a very different story.
BOB BAER, CNN SECURITY ANALYST: Lindsey Graham is not trying to alarm people. He's basing this statement on the real possibility we could be at war with North Korea. I think what he's advising the president is to get the families out now. This situation is getting worse by the day and with these military exercises in the south, the United States is carrying out South Korean military, we are a lot closer to a full-on war with North Korea, and if you're an American in South Korea, now is the time to get out.
KEILAR: What would a preemptive strike look like and what benefit would there be for a preemptive strike against North Korea?
BAER: Well, the first thing they'd want to do is assassinate Kim Jong-un, he's the problem and then take out command and control immediately. You're not going to be able to disarm North Korea in a week of strikes or a month. Most of their weaponry is in caves and it is well camouflaged so it's really the command and control, remove that in a quick strike and you might be able to prevent a true catastrophe, but I just simply don't understand, and I'm not sure we understand how capable the North Koreans are to responding to a preemptive attack.
KEILAR: That's a huge question and the concern for the United States right now is that North Korea can marry intercontinental ballistic missile capabilities with a nuclear warhead and create a weapon, a nuclear weapon that could reach the U.S. that is the big concern. When you describe a scenario that would be an assassination of the North Korean leader and taking out command, is that possible or is that -- would that be a Hail Mary?
BAER: I think it would be a Hail Mary. The North Koreans understand how to go off the air. They know how to go under ground. They know how to move large units without alerting American intercept capabilities. You'd have to be pretty lucky, but what the president is up against is the next couple of months or a year, he's going to have a re-entry capability for a miniaturized nuclear weapon that could hit New York City and Washington, D.C.
[15:50:00] I mean, this president is under a lot of pressure anyhow and the last thing he needs to do is North Koreans prove that he can take -- Kim Jong-un could take out the White House which is not inconceivable within a couple of years, and this is a real problem and it's a dilemma and why Lindsey Graham is talking about the possibility of war and people say maybe it's 20 or 30 percent. I would say it's a lot higher.
KEILAR: Where would you put it?
BAER: About 50 percent.
KEILAR: This is terrible options all around, too. Bob Baer, thank you so much.
Coming up, we will talk about stunning claims of harassment and discrimination from women in Silicon Valley. They say that their male coworkers engaged in sexual activity in the office and expected them to perform, quote, womanly tasks like cleaning up and washing dishes. We have the allegations and the boss' response to them next.
[15:55:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
KEILAR: From Hollywood to Washington, we have heard a lot about the sexual harassment allegations levelled against many powerful men in entertainment, politics and media. Well now the focus turns to Silicon Valley and a lawsuit that is shedding light on what's happening in the tech industry. And CNN tech senior correspondent Laurie Segall is here with more on a special that you have, Laurie, it's called "Divided We Code." Tell us what you found out.
LAURIE SEGALL, CNN Tech Senior Correspondent: This has been happening as longer as I've been covering technology. We've heard about the sexual harassment issues. We've been looking at to closely. It is coming to the surface now like in all other industries. Brianna, I spoke to multiple women who are telling me their treatment wasn't OK, they are fed up and they want to take a stand. Take a listen.
ELIZABETH SCOTT, VICTIM OF SEXUAL HARASSMENT: Everybody talks about how to we are progressive and so forward-thinking.
SEGALL: Silicon Valley promised to code solutions to the world's problems, but it can't seem to fix one of its own.
SCOTT: Gender discrimination, sexual discrimination, harassment.
SEGALL: In May, Elizabeth Scott filed a lawsuit against her former employer, UploadVR, it's a powerful start-up in Silicon Valley and also had a reputation for its parties.
SCOTT: I thought these are young like me.
SEGALL: Daisy Burns is another former employee.
DAISY BURNS, VICTIM OF SEXUAL HARASSMENT: I was blown away by what I had gotten myself into.
SEGALL: Young founders, millions in funding, a party culture. It created a perfect storm according to Elizabeth's lawsuit.
SCOTT: One male employee would talk about how he refuses to wear a condom and has sex with over 1,000 people. Male employees engaged in sexual conduct in the office.
SEGALL: According to the lawsuit, there was a space called the kink room.
SCOTT: We had a kink VR demo in there.
SEGALL: The lawsuit says male employees used the space for sexual intercourse during parties. Screenshots obtained by CNN show internal chat boards where, quote, random sex sessions were joked about.
SCOTT: I would every once in awhile find underwear in that room and we would make jokes about it and have to clean it up.
SEGALL: You had to clean up underwear from your office space?
SCOTT: Yes, that was part of start-up life I guess.
SEGALL: Also, according to the lawsuit, female employees were expected to act as, quote, mommies.
SCOTT: Women are viewed as the people that clean up underwear and do the dishes.
SEGALL: Elizabeth says she was fired days after complaining to a manager.
SCOTT: That was kind of the breaking point for me mentally.
SEGALL: After seeing Elizabeth's lawsuit, Daisy and other employees sent a letter requesting the founders step down. When they refused, she quit. Here's what the founders are saying now.
WILL MASON, CO-FOUNDER UPLOAD VR: I totally understand how a young woman just moving to San Francisco and then walking into an upload event where, you know, there was loud music and an open bar, I can totally understand how that could feel uncomfortable.
SEGALL: The very specific claims of these women were more than, you know, oh, I was uncomfortable at a party, I was uncomfortable because I had to pick up underwear from the party. I was uncomfortable because there was a male employee talking about having sex with 1,000 women and not wearing a condom. I want to give you guys the opportunity to respond to that.
FREEMAN: Yes, I mean, I think the whole team has realized sort of the party culture nature of the company. We've really put a lot of structure. We established an H.R. department.
SEGALL: Were women expected to do tasks like the dishes were as men weren't?
MASON: No. I don't think that we had the experience early on to recognize that shift that needed to happen.
SEGALL: But for some women, it's just not enough.
BURNS: This has to stop. If it's helped one person, then I know I did the right thing.
SEGALL: The question remains, now what?
SEGALL: And it's important to look at, if we're looking at sexual harassment through the lens of Silicon Valley, you have to remember these are a lot of young founders. Millions of dollars pouring in without an H.R. structure and a lot of immaturity. I think you saw it there in that piece. I think it's also important for us to realize the products created in Silicon Valley and coded by these people, they reach all of us, so you need to be a safe place for women and all sorts of people, Brianna.
[16:00:00] KEILAR: You're describing, it sounds kind of like female unfriendly, fraternity-like environment, but the thing that really bothered me about the report there, Laurie, was when you said that Elizabeth complained and found her employment terminated shortly thereafter. That is such a problem. I know you've been talking to a lot of people privately. You spoke to these two women on camera, but privately I'm sure people are very candid with you. What are they saying?
SEGALL: At the tech conferences tell me what you're not allowed to say out loud. And it is very concerning. Investors say they are too nervous to meet with a woman after hours or grab a drink to talk about investment. Talking about being nervous in investing in women. What if this is a liability. What if we hug? So, you know, I think we have to have a real conversation about this. This is a real moment for women but it's also a moment for men to come forward and have an honest conversation it's obviously very polarized and sensitive right now.
KEILAR: So, with all of these stories pouring in now, you know, what happens? What's -- is there any sort of change? What is the next step that you're seeing?
SEGALL: You know, I think we have to keep adding pressure. There should be legal ramifications. A lot of tech founders are coming together and trying to come up with technical solutions to actually have data for reporting and trying to get around the H.R. structure clearly in this case was broken, Brianna.
KEILAR: It sounds like they have one in place and certainly this will be a lesson for a number of other companies. Laurie Segall, thank you so much. Be sure to catch her full special "divided we code" Saturday at 2:00 p.m. eastern. Thanks for joining me.